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May 24, 2010

Gingrich Newt-ered for 2012

Listed in: Other Domestic Policy, GOP Hypocrisies, NJDC News, Opinions

Originally published in Politico’s Arena

By David A. Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council

Former Speaker Gingrich has had his moments in recent years when he has appeared, at least to the untrained eye, to be tanned, rested and ready for prime time. But these latest comments—and the push-back he has received from the likes of former Rep. Susan Molinari and Fox News, let alone the condemnation he has received from the “secular-socialist” circles in which I move—reveal otherwise.

First, it’s essential to remember that what all the fuss is about is not an off-the-cuff “gaffe.” What everyone is discussing is text from a book that was written, edited, then edited again and again and again—vetted and carefully calibrated as much as possible. This is not a small slip; this is a careful and oft-repeated reflection of where Gingrich’s thinking (and sloganeering) is at. Second, whether or not today’s GOP leaders condemn it (and they haven’t yet), it is simply unacceptable to continue this ongoing abusive Nazi and Holocaust rhetoric in American politics. It’s a horrific two-fer; it desecrates the memory of those who perished in the Shoah and those who valiantly fought against Nazi tyranny, while it also coarsens our public discourse and turns the volume up to “11” on every public policy discussion—making genuine interchange and dialog impossible. Throughout the health care debate, it became commonplace to see President Obama and Speaker Pelosi compared to Hitler—and everybody lost in the process, even as health care reform became law.

Gingrich’s practiced shock rhetoric helps to ensure that he won’t be a viable candidate in 2012, but that’s not his immediate goal. The quotation in question comes from his new book, and he’s essentially on an extended book tour; as Joe Scarborough suggested, he’s going to sell a lot of books indeed.